Publication Date

Spring 5-12-2018

Document Type

Action research project: Open access

Degree Name

MA Higher Education Leadership


Leadership Studies


The purpose of this research is to examine women’s understanding of gender norms in relationship to their studies and career aspirations at the University of San Diego (USD). This research provided students with a better understanding of the social constructs that exist in the classroom and workforce, specifically in business related industries. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycles is the method I used to analyze my professional development as a career counselor and educational development as a researcher. Achieving this required the six participants to share stories in regards to their academic and professional experiences in a one-on-one interview. Participants also created a vision board that represented where they see themselves in five to ten years which was used in a group discussion about the creative tension between their visions and realities during a focus group. Lastly, students were asked to complete a survey about their experience as participants and to provide feedback for the researcher. This research provided insights into how women in the School of Business make sense of their current identity as a student, internships experiences, and future as professionals. Value, self-doubt, competition, gender norms, and work/family life were all themes that emerged from the various cycles. This data will be utilized in my professional career as I continue to work with women to obtain their career goals regardless of the social constraints they encounter.